The (Jewish) Plays Are the Thing

Is it just me, or is it an especially rich time for Jewish theater at the moment? Especially here in New York?

On Sunday, I had the great privilege of attending a performance of “Through the Darkness: The Story of Four People Who Outran the Holocaust.” Staged at The Workshop Theater, the play is the creation of Alan Breindel, a member of my home congregation.

Per the Theater’s website: “Through the Darkness recounts the unimaginable journeys and true stories of four courageous men and women who left everything behind, including their loved ones, so that they might stay one step ahead of the Holocaust. Three of the four characters managed to avoid the horrors of the concentration camps and remained free, even if freedom was no more than the right to die on their own terms. Chaos was inescapable, freedom was motion, and the only safe place was anyplace other than where they were. Each of the characters repeatedly come face to face with seemingly insurmountable obstacles to daily survival and show us that when life is vastly different, life is still livable.”

One of those four characters is based on a family friend who was also in the audience on Sunday—along with his wife, children, and grandchildren. This certainly added to the emotional power of Sunday’s theater-going experience, although I am certain that one needs no personal ties to this material to be moved by it.

In recent days, I’ve taken note of a number of other examples of what I’ll call “plays of Jewish interest.” Fore example, based in part on a number of enthusiastic reviews (like this one), I’ve already secured tickets to see Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget.”

I’m also intrigued by coverage of “the real rabbi who helped inspire” the new musical “Come From Away.” And I found this New York Times article on a revival of Sholem Asch’s “God of Vengeance,” featuring actors from Hasidic backgrounds, fascinating.

Whether I’ll manage to see all of these productions is, of course, another matter entirely. Still, it’s inspirational to know that they’re here.